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The importance of childhood in learning has only been fully appreciated very recently. Swiss education professional Jean Piaget extended our knowledge of the way children learn in such a profound way that it moved all the goalposts in many countries in terms of education and teaching.
Children start learning in the womb - they can hear their parents voices and the sound of heartbeat and music. The moment they are born they begin to take in and process information about the world around them from their five senses. The period between birth and five years sees the most phenomenal increase in vocabulary in most people's lives. W.B. Yeats said that 'education is not the filling of a bucket but the lighting of a fire' and this describes the way that children very well - not by rote learning or lectures, but by inspiration, experiment, process of elimantion, imagination and exploration - in short ... through play! As adults, we channel this curiosity best by providing a rich plethora of new experiences, talking with the child about them and helping them to vocalise,record and internalise what they discover.
There is another importance to childhood learning, which is directed to the future. One of the most important points that I learned as an educator is that a child will be an excellent student when there is the proper motivations. In other words, if a child loves to learn for the sake of learning and knowledge, that child will go on to be a great student. So, the question is how does a child develop this love for learning. I think the answer is, in part, what that child experiences in childhood. If that child is put in an environment of books and a culture where learning is a seen as a "cool" thing, then that child will learn that and become a great student. Finally, do not underestimate the potential for learning.
Childhood is an ideal time for learning because of several factors:
1. Children are natually curious and, in the words of Jacques Rousseau, they are a "blank slate" (tabula rasa) that is ready to intake information.
2. Children are naturally uninhibited and daring. They would me less affective and less biased and more willing to try new forms of learning.
3. Children learn through doing and their neuron and synaptic impulses are at an all time high due to their developmental stage and due to their constant experiences doing and playing. This is the best way to learn kinesthetically.
4. Children are also safe (or should be feeling this way) from criticism and social rejection. Their affective filter is still not blocked by life experiences, whether negative or positive, and hence they are more apt to obtain learning.
The previous posts presented some quality findings. I would like to echo them in suggesting that the current educational system in the United States seems to emphasize the importance of childhood in the learning process. Given the recent trends of Standards Based Educational Reform and, in particular, the mandates of testing with No Child Left Behind, students are expected to demonstrate competencies at an earlier and earlier stage. This means that childhood is essential in the learning process. The natural curiosity that children have has to be harnessed and developed into a sense of wonderment. If not, the remediation measures called for by testing based initiatives would almost certainly help to dampen a child's spirits in terms of learning. This would suggest that childhood is vital in the learning process as it helps to allow success being measured through external means.
Children begin learning from the time that they are born. It is very important that the learning continue through education so that each child is challenged in the appropriate manner. Higher level thinking would not be promoted without education. This would leave us with millions that only learn certain things and never explore their full potiential.
This question sends my head off in a thousand directions. seeking an answer. Importance of childhood learning. I must repeat it, because it is such a baffling subject, that it should come up at all.
There is no stopping childhood learning. even if we want to. That is like stopping the ocean waves from hitting the beach.
Perhaps what is the importance of teaching children in a way that they understand better, or inspiring them to question, and how to find answers. Helping children to keep their enthusiasm for learning is the important component on the subject. Their Interest in learning is of utmost value to them and to the world.
Childhood experiences are very important in the education of our children. As an educator I see students come in to our kindergarten classes each year and almost immediately can tell which children have been encouraged to learn prior to them reaching us. This learning does not have to be in a fancy early childhood preschool, it has to also occur in the childs home by parents and siblings encouraging the young child to explore and learn about the things around them.
In addition to the great research presented above, allow me to assert one other related idea:
Childhood is the period when we as people actually "learn to learn --" That is, we begin to understand how we best absorb knowledge, practices, and other essential components of education. The child who struggles with math, for instance, may find that he/she works better by adding and subtracting with fingers, and this practice may carry into later education. Children also begin to understand that their brains fall into one of the multiple intelligence groups, even if they don't know that's what they're doing. They may recognize that they understand and interpret material better visually, kinesthetically, etc. than they do in other presented ways. They may not have the name for their learning style pinpointed, but they do get the idea that they can grasp certain instructional techniques better than others.
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